For years, it can feel like you're waiting around for your real life to start. Until your late twenties hit.
Throughout high school, college, and early career, there's a constant sense of preparing for adulthood. But then, 26 or 27 rolls around, and you realize you've arrived. This is it. You're finally, actually, a grownup. And you know what? It's absolutely spectacular.
Regardless of whether you're 27, 29, or any other age, really, there's always something to celebrate. You have an abundance of opportunity in front of you and have learned from every experience behind you. But here are some things to embrace about the truly magical stage known as your late twenties or perhaps your not-so-young adulthood:
1. You've developed a sense of individual style.
For many of us, our teen years were spent being a slave to mainstream or subculture fashion. Whether you shopped at Forever 21 or Hot Topic, you likely spent way too much time worrying about whether your latest outfit was on point enough. But now you're in your late twenties and somewhere along the line, you realized you care more about what you like than what others think. And finally, you're picking the wardrobe that makes you feel gorgeous and confident.
Developing a sense of individual style—for both clothing and decor—can be very rewarding, even freeing. As Nina Garcia puts it, "There is no herd to follow. There are no rules. There are no seasons." The moment you embrace that truth can be among the most freeing of your entire life.
2. You have a sense of career direction.
The first few years after college can be frustrating. You probably took a job that wasn't what you thought it would be and spent your days feeling bored and understimulated. But now you're older and so much wiser. So, even if you're not in the exact position you'd like to be in by now, at least you know what your dream job looks like. Plus, you've probably taken some steps toward achieving your ideal job title, and that is absolutely something to celebrate.
3. You've accumulated dating experience.
By your late twenties, you've probably taken a few shots at Tinder or meeting people the old-fashioned way, and regardless of your relationship status, that's definitely something to appreciate. You've finally started to understand what you want (and don't want) out of a relationship. And your confidence is better than it was five years ago, so you're no longer willing to tolerate people who don't deserve to be in your life.
4. You've become more financially savvy.
Chances are the idea of creating and keeping a budget isn't totally overwhelming to you as it was a decade ago. You're used to a regular paycheck, budgeting, and bills. You may be saving for a down payment on a house or funneling money toward a 401(k) for retirement. Even though finances are one of the less glamorous aspects of adulthood, every financial lesson you've learned is helping you prepare for the future.
5. You've learned how to say no.
Remember the first time you declined a dinner invitation because you really needed some time alone to zone out in front of Netflix? It probably felt amazing. Learning to say no to friends, significant others, family, and colleagues is a work in progress for most of us, but it's a journey well worth taking.
As health expert Paul Huljich points out, if "we are not true to ourselves, we create disharmony that is painful." Protecting our own mental health and interests is one of the loveliest parts about getting older.
6. You are comfortable with alone time.
Back in your late teens and early twenties, you probably felt a little weird if you were home alone on a weekend. You may have even experienced guilt about wanting a night off from your friends. But as you've gotten older, the fear of missing out has dissipated and a little time alone is enjoyable, not depressing.
7. Your home is a haven.
In young adulthood, your home wasn't always your own space, because your dorm room and apartment were shared with a roommate. But now, even though you may live with a significant other or share housing for financial reasons, your home has become a permanent haven. You're able to invest in decor and furnishings you genuinely love, and as a result you're always happy to be home.
8. You're able to take things in stride.
Do you feel that you're better at rolling with the punches now that you're older or that major setbacks in your teens would be less difficult to weather in your late twenties? Being able to handle almost anything life tosses your way is a fantastic part of getting older. Plus, things will only get easier as you continue to age! At 72, actress Blythe Danner said, "Just having lived for this many years, you've experienced everything."
9. You can pick and choose pop culture.
There comes a time in your late twenties when you realize that you've fallen a bit out of touch but also that it's completely okay. You may still idolize Tess Holliday or Beyoncé, but you've lost a compulsive urge to keep up with all the latest pop culture icons. I'm here to say there's absolutely nothing wrong with selective pop culture obsessions or losing touch with what doesn't inspire you anymore.
10. You're healthier.
As you age, many people become more conscious of their health and, let's face it, their mortality as well. Of course, your late twenties isn't old, but it's also a good time to start embracing healthier habits, especially when the weeknight partying leaves you feeling like a zombie in the morning. You've started trading pizza for veggies every once in a while, and you feel better for it. Physical and mental health are always works in progress, but it's absolutely fantastic to be in a place where health and mood matter more than one night at a bar.